Buxton's 453-foot HR reigns in 'Land of 10,000 Rakes'

Twins unveil their new celebration amid 7-run 3rd vs. KC, complete with vest and fishing pole

May 2nd, 2023

MINNEAPOLIS -- As anyone who grew up in Minnesota knows all too well, the fishing opener is an important tradition in the Land of 10,000 Lakes -- but that’s still two weeks away, on May 13.

But the Twins have now christened Target Field as the “Land of 10,000 Rakes,” where the fishing vest and fishing pole are already in season.

That’s because the local twist on the ever-more-popular dugout home run celebration debuted on Sunday. donned a fishing vest emblazoned with “Land of 10,000 Rakes” on the back and posed with a toy fishing pole at the television camera in the dugout following his 453-foot homer in the seven-run third inning that spurred an 8-4 victory over the Royals.

“It's something unique that makes up our team and stands for Minnesota,” Buxton said.

Let’s get the important stuff out of the way first: It was Pablo López who made the trip to a local shopping mall (he doesn’t remember which) and a Dick’s Sporting Goods to buy the vest and pole, which all cost “probably less than you’d think,” he said with a grin.

It’s a toy “Paw Patrol” fishing pole, by the way.

“I thought that would add a fun touch to it,” López said. “All audiences, all ages.”

The Twins had seen the proliferation of home run celebrations around MLB and knew they needed their own for the “good vibes,” López said. He got the idea for a fishing motif because the clubhouse TVs would frequently show fishing programs on Bally Sports North when he’d walk into the clubhouse before games.

“I mean, it makes sense [with] 10,000 lakes,” López said. “There’s got to be tons of fishing in all seasons. I’ve heard of ice fishing. I’ve heard that’s a thing.”

With that decided, a brainstorming committee involving López, Kyle Farmer, Michael A. Taylor, Ryan Jeffers, the clubhouse staff and baseball communications senior manager Mitch Hestad convened to work out the details. It was Hestad who coined the slogan “Land of 10,000 Rakes,” which was quickly ratified by the Twins’ ad-hoc committee.

López went on his shopping excursion and showed up with the goods on Sunday morning. Clubhouse attendant Frank Hanzlik worked his magic with the sewing machine, and quickly enough, the “Land of 10,000 Rakes” was stitched onto the vest in official team lettering.

Not long after that, the Twins’ new celebration made its debut.

“Pablo said, 'You've got to make a pose for the camera.'” Buxton said. “I said, 'Pablo, I ain't never done that!' … Try something different every day. That's something different.”

Anyway, Buxton’s three-run blast to the third deck off Brady Singer marked the fifth-longest homer of his career and it came amid a flurry of two-out baserunners in the frame, which also featured RBI singles from Nick Gordon, Willi Castro and Christian Vázquez.

The Twins’ once-slumbering offense put forth its biggest inning since the nine-run first against the Yankees in the Bronx on April 13.

Minnesota’s lineup has come to life with a mixture of good, deep plate appearances and home runs, with the team’s flurry of power swings since that day in New York helping lift the Twins into a tie for second in the American League in homers entering Sunday.

And following any future homers, fans might see the evolution of the 10,000 Rakes paraphernalia.

“As the days go, we’ll update it,” López said. “More trial and error.”

The burst of offense made a winner of Sonny Gray, who capped one of the best months of his 11-year career with another gem -- six innings, five hits, one run, seven strikeouts -- and an MLB-leading 0.77 ERA, tied for the lowest April ERA in team history among pitchers to throw at least 30 innings.

Amid all that, he had a chance to look up and see the chaos ensue with the dugout fishing gear.

“I saw Pablo with a fishing pole, and the first thing I thought was, ‘Oh man, that's cool, [my son] Declan's got one of those,’” Gray said.

The next time Gray looked up, he saw Buxton with the vest on, receiving the pole from López.

“Hmm, that makes sense,” Gray thought, still not exactly sure of what was going on.

Then, it clicked.

“I just thought Pablo was playing with a fishing pole at first,” Gray said. “And then it kind of was like, 'Ahh, the home run thing.'”